Welcome! This guide thoroughly explains the fundamentals of LoL. You don't need much game knowledge to have fun, but if you're ready to grow into a competent and competitive player, then this guide is for you.
Using the Guide
The best way to learn is to alternate play and study. Start with in-game tools like the Tutorial and Intro Bots, formulate questions, then find answers with the guide.
This guide is not intended to be read in one sitting. Pace yourself.
If you encounter an unfamiliar term or concept, look for it in other chapters. CTRL+F is your friend!
Icons, Spoilers, & Color Coding
I'm an ordinary player who enjoys community. Come learn with me as I live stream gameplay on Twitch or find me in-game (NA server; IGN: The All Tomato). You can also check out my MOBAfire bio and Twitch info.
What is League of Legends?
League of Legends is a type of game called a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). 2 teams seek to destroy each other's base in an intense real-time strategy (RTS) brawl. Players control and customize a single character, and work with their teammates to accumulate resources and outplay foes.
Each match, players choose the character they wish to play from a roster of over 120 champions, and customize this champion with the resources they earn. Every match is a fresh start - in-game customization does not carry over.
Visit the official League of Legends website to create an account and download the game.
You, the player, are titled a Summoner. Your account has Summoner levels; the max is 30. Play to level up and unlock new queue types, game modes, summoner spells, mastery points, and rune slots (discussed later).
Influence Points (IP) are currency earned by playing. Use IP to unlock content such as champions.
Most content can be unlocked with Riot Points (RP), currency bought with money. Skins, a cosmetic feature, can only be bought with RP.
The Free Champion Rotation is a group of ten champions unlocked for all players, which changes every week. Before level 6, players can use the New Player Champion Rotation, a selection of straightforward champions that are forgiving to learn with.
Champions are the player-controlled characters. They begin each game at level 1 and have a maximum level of 18, becoming more powerful with each level.
Each champion has a basic attack, a passive, and 4 abilities:
- A basic attack (auto attack, AA) is performed by right-clicking an enemy. They are either melee or ranged. Ranged champions fire an auto attack projectile that follows targets. Champions automatically attack enemies in range (by default; this can be turned off), and attack continuously until commanded otherwise. Each champion's attack is a little different; some take longer to complete a single attack, and some ranged champions' attack projectiles travel more slowly than others.
- The passive is an innate characteristic that affects gameplay, but does not require buttons to be pressed.
- The 4 abilities (skills, spells) are the unique actions available to a champion. Most have 3 basic abilities and 1 ultimate (ult, ulti), which is their most powerful or defining. Basic abilities have 5 ranks each, advanced with the ability points acquired on leveling up. The ultimate ability has 3 ranks and can be advanced at levels 6, 11, and 16.
Champions can deal 3 types of damage:
- Physical damage is dealt through all basic attacks, and some abilities.
- Magic damage is dealt through most (but not all) abilities, and can be added to basic attacks.
- True damage is rare, and comes from various sources. It cannot be mitigated, whereas physical and magical damage can.
'Magic' and 'physical' are merely game mechanic terms, and are not related to the action a champion is performing. For example, Sejuani's Flail of the Northern Winds, an attack where she physically swings her weapon, deals magic damage. All basic attacks deal physical damage, whether it's with fists, fireballs, bullets, or bolts of arcane power.
When multiple damage types are dealt from a single source, it is termed mixed damage.
Champions fill 6 different roles. They often have primary and secondary roles.
|Mages (ability power carries, APC) are powerful casters who use their abilities to deal magic damage and disrupt enemies. They are typically ranged, and have low defenses to balance out their offensive capability.|
|Marksmen (attack damage carries, ADC) primarily use their ranged basic attacks to deal sustained physical damage to single targets, termed damage-per-second (DPS). They are characterized by abilities and passives that boost their attack damage, attack speed, or range. Fragile marksmen must work hard to stay at range to survive.|
|Tanks are typically melee and have high defenses, but relatively low damage output. Their job is to disrupt, disable, and protect. Tanks can take a beating, and are usually the first in a fight and the last ones out.|
|Fighters (bruisers) are typically melee, and combine moderate damage and defense. Due to their medium survivability and damage, fighters are capable duelists. Many are physical damage-oriented, some are magic, while others deal a mixture.|
|Supports excel at protecting and empowering allies, and/or disrupting enemies. Utility, usefulness other than damage, is their defining trait, along with a sacrificial playstyle. Supports have two sub-roles - ranged mage supports, and melee tank supports.|
|Assassins have extreme mobility and massive damage output, called burst damage for the short time it takes to deal. They can nearly instantly kill non-tanks. If caught, fragile assassins die just as quickly, and must use their mobility to get in and out of fights at the right time. There are both physical and magic damage assassins.|
Statistics (stats) are the numerical values that describe all units and structures, including champions, minions, and turrets. Understanding what these numbers mean, and how they relate to one another, is a crucial step to League mastery. I'll focus my explanation on champions.
Base stats are the default values a champion begins a game with. Most grow with level.
Bonus stats come from outside sources (abilities, passives, items, runes, and masteries).
All champions have base amounts of these (except mana & mana regen), but can also get them from bonus sources:
- Hit Points (Health, HP): The amount of damage a champion can take before dying.
- HP regeneration (Hp5): The amount of hitpoints a champion regenerates every 5 seconds. Regen actually occurs every half second, so 10 HP5 means 1 hitpoint gained every half second.
- Mana (MP): The maximum amount of mana available to cast abilities.
- Mana regeneration (Mp5): The amount of mana restored passively every 5 seconds. Like HP5, this effect takes place every half second.
- Armor (AR): Reduces incoming physical damage. Each point of armor makes HP 1% more effective against physical damage. For example, a champion with 100 HP and 0 armor will be killed by 100 physical damage. With 100 armor this champion has 100% more effective HP, meaning it will take 200 physical damage to kill them.
- Magic Resist (MR): Reduces incoming magic damage. MR functions exactly like armor, except against magic damage. All champions have 30 base MR, but only some gain it per level.
- Attack Damage (AD): The amount of physical damage dealt by one basic attack.
- Attack Speed (AS, ASPD): The number of basic attacks performed per second. This has a cap of 2.5.
- Range: The number of in-game units a basic attack reaches. Range does not increase with level (except Tristana's, because of her passive Draw a Bead).
- Movement Speed (MS): The number of in-game units a champion travels per second. This does not increase with levels.
These only come from abilities, passives, items, runes, and masteries:
- Cooldown Reduction (CDR): Reduces ability cooldowns by a percentage. Caps at 40%.
- Ability Power (AP): Ability Power points enhance most abilities. This will be covered more in the "Abilities" chapter. When attacking structures, basic attacks apply the higher of a champion's bonus attack damage or 40% of their ability power.
- Armor Penetration (APen): Causes physical damage to ignore an opponents' armor. Has flat and percentage values.
- Magic Penetration (MPen): functions the same as armor penetration, except for magic damage against magic resist. Penetration & Reduction Calculation
- Lifesteal (LS): The percentage of damage dealt from basic attacks returned as hitpoints. Heal yourself by attacking enemies!
- Spell Vamp (SV): Same concept as lifesteal, but for abilities, summoner spells, and item actives.
- Critical Strike Chance (Crit): Basic attacks gain a % amount of chance to deal double damage. Crits occur randomly, but measured over an extended number of attacks, every 1% of crit chance increases effective attack damage by 1%.
- Tenacity: Reduces the duration of disables by a percentage. For example, Lux can root enemies for 2 seconds using Light Binding, but enemies with 35% Tenacity will only be rooted for 1.3 seconds.
- Gold per 10 seconds (Gp10): All champions passively earn gold at the same rate, which can be slightly increased with items, masteries, or runes. Technically, this is not a stat, but a system that behaves like one.
This chapter explains general concepts and terminology. To learn about a specific champion's abilities click a portrait on the Champion Info page, or use the League of Legends wiki.
To learn about ideal skill orders, I recommend using online guides for a specific champion. However, I can offer a few general tips:
- Determine which basic ability has a champion's most meaningful damage and/or utility, and max it before the others. For many champions, this choice is always the same; other champions can make reactive choices.
- Determine what abilites, if any, are '1-point wonders' (utility-oriented abilities that only need 1 rank to get their job done). Rank these once, but max them last.
- By level 4, each basic ability should be ranked at least once.
- Put a point in the ultimate ability whenever possible - at levels 6, 11, and 16.
What Do Abilities Do?
Abilities have a multitude of effects, some of which are unique to a champion! Often, a single ability has more than one effect. These are the most common:
- Damage: removes health. Damage-over-time (DoT, burn, poison, bleed) deals damage gradually, instead of instantaneously.
- Heal: return missing health. Healing a full-health target has no effect.
- Shield: give temporary health. Shields are shown in health bars as grey. Magic damage shields, which only block magic damage, are purple.
- Crowd control (CC): disables or impedes enemies.
most common cc types
- Hard CC completely removes a player's control of their champion.
- Soft CC partially removes control.
- Interrupts cancel channeled abilities. Any CC that prevents casting abilities is an interrupt, whether it's hard or soft.
- Buff: increase allies' statistics. Steroids are self-buffs.
- Debuff: lower enemies' statistics.
- Movement: allows a champion to quickly re-position by dashing, jumping, blinking, teleporting, etc. Most can cross terrain. Thresh's Dark Passage, Kalista's Fate's Call, and Tahm Kench's Abyssal Voyage uniquely offer re-positioning to allies. Offensive movement abilities are called gap closers, defensive are escapes.
- Attack modifiers: give special effects to basic attacks. Some are attack resets, which allow a champion to attack in quick succession when used immediately after completing a basic attack.
- Some abilities apply on-hit effects, which normally only occur on basic attacks. Examples of on-hit effects include lifesteal, Spellblade from the item Sheen, and Nami's attack modifier Tidecaller's Blessing.
- Passive effects occur without activation, as long as the ability has been ranked with an ability point. Don't confuse these with a champion's passive!
How Do Abilities Work?
- Cost: the amount of resource consumed per cast. Champions have finite resource pools; if this pool is empty, abilities can't be used. Most champions use mana, but some use their health or rapidly-regenerating energy. Some have no resource, and therefore no costs.
- Scaling: the way stats increase the power of an ability. Scaling is specified by a ratio, which adds a portion of the relevant stat to the base value.
- Cooldown (CD): the delay before an ability can be recast. Most abilities go on cooldown immediately after cast, but some have variations on this mechanic:
- Multi-use: can be cast multiple times in a short window. Ex. Ahri's Spirit Rush
- Charge/Ammo: stock multiple charges that can be used in quick succession. The charges themselves replenish with a longer cooldown. Ex. Teemo's Noxious Trap
- Toggle: grants a persistent effect when activated, with a cooldown between switches. Ex. Dr. Mundo's Burning Agony
- Range: the measure of an ability's reach. Range is illustrated by range indicators. Abilities with global range can be used anywhere on the map.
- Cast time: the delay between cast and effect. This is usually illustrated with a wind-up animation (for example, Annie rearing back to throw Incinerate, or Ashe drawing her bowstring to fire Volley.) Most are brief (~.5 seconds). Some abilities cast instantly.
- Channels: abilities with interruptable cast times. Interrupts put the ability on cooldown, without its effect occurring. This can be done by the caster through movement, ability, or attack commands, or by enemies through crowd control.
- Auto-targeted: when cast, affects all those in range. No aiming required.
- Targeted: requires the cursor to be over a target that is visible and in range. Most of these cannot be dodged and will follow the target regardless of its movement.
- Skillshot: require aiming using the cursor. These come in many shapes and sizes, such as linear projectiles, conic spreads, or circles. Skillshots can be missed or avoided--aim carefully!
- Area-of-effect (AoE): can affect multiple units in one cast.
- Single-target: affects only one unit per cast.
- Aura: passively buffs or debuffs units in an area around the caster.
Items give champions bonus stats, and also special attributes:
- Actives are essentially extra abilities, used with the number key assigned to the item slot occupied. Examples include Zhonya's Hourglass, Youmuu's Ghostblade, and Ravenous Hydra.
- Passives don't require any button-pressing. Examples include Trinity Force, Warmog's Armor, and Liandry's Torment.
- Unique passives and actives of the same name do not stack. This means owning two items with the same unique active/passive will only give the benefit of one. For example, owning 2 Zhonya's Hourglass and using 1 will put both on cooldown.
Purchased items occupy 1 of 6 item slots and take effect immediately; there is no need to "equip" them. Consumables like Health Potions and elixirs don't do anything until consumed by using the number key of their item slot.
Basic items are the starting point in every item's recipe. Different items use the same basic items, allowing adaptive build strategies.
Items don't apply real-world logic. Boots of Speed are an important item on Nami, a mermaid with no feet. Infinity Edge is a sword that is core on Ashe, an archer. The stats granted, not the name or icon, are what matters.
Itemization choices are called a build.
To build appropriately, ask yourself these questions:
- What is my champion's role?
- What statistics and attributes does my champion need to perform this role?
- What statistics and attributes will help me against the enemies I am facing this match?
Use items to amplify strengths, or make up for weaknesses. A champion's core items often vary only slightly, but you should always build in response to match-specific situations. Varying build order, even among the same items, can make a huge difference!
Choose how you build carefully. Rushing an item means only buying its components until completion. Building several items too slowly can delay a power spike, but rushing one item can mean missing essential stats from others.
Maximize power and gold efficiency by choosing items that complement each other. A simple example is the relationship between resistances and health - health from one item will benefit from the magic resist/armor from another, and vice versa.
Do not copy the bots' item builds seen when playing Co-op vs AI. They are intentionally poor.
Summoner spells are chosen before each match in champion select. They have long cooldowns, ranging from 60 seconds to 5 minutes. They are unlocked at different summoner levels, and are all unlocked by summoner level 10.
You can take any combination of spells, but the best choices vary. Think about the champion, role, and position you're playing, and the champions you are facing.
Mouse over the icons below to learn what each spell does. I will share some common uses of each.
|Ghost is for escaping or chasing enemies. Moving through units, also known as avoiding unit collision, means a champion won't have to walk around minions, etc.|
|Cleanse aids fragile champions such as mages and marksmen who can be devastated by crowd control, giving them a chance to escape or fight back. "Summoner spell debuffs" refers to Exhaust and Ignite.|
|Exhaust (exh) can be used defensively to prevent an enemy dealing damage and chasing, or offensively to prevent retaliation or escape. Exhaust is especially effective against burst champions like assassins.|
|Ignite (ign) is a popular choice for securing kills and making sure enemies don't duck out of vision in bushes or the fog of war. "Healing effects" includes HP regeneration, lifesteal, and spellvamp. Ignite is a powerful choice against champions who rely heavily on healing, such as Vladimir.|
|Teleport (tp) is fantastic for making surprise plays across the map, getting back to lane quickly, or escaping enemies. It can be used on a a variety of allied units, including turrets, minions, and wards. Teleport is a channeled spell, and can be cancelled by the player or by enemy CC. If cancelled by the player, it will go on a reduced cooldown.|
|Smite is for use on jungle monsters. Secure the killing blow, or just kill them more quickly. It operates by a charge mechanic. Certain items modify Smite so it can be used on champions - see the chapter 'Closer Look: Jungling' to learn more. Smite also works on various enemy units, such as minions, Annie's bear Tibbers, Heimerdinger's turrets, and the bloblets from Zac's Cell Division.|
A mastery is an option for bonus statistics and/or special attributes. There are 40 masteries organized into 3 skill trees: Ferocity, Cunning, and Resolve. Each tree has 5 tiers, and culminates in 3 extra-impactful Keystone Masteries.
Each of the 5 tiers forces a choice between two masteries. Players choose a mastery by placing a mastery point in an available slot. It takes 18 points to reach a Keystone, leaving 12 to use among the remaining trees. Mastery points are gained with summoner levels.
You can create up to 20 unique mastery pages that can be edited during champion selection or in your summoner profile.
Mastery pages are all about meaningful choice - it's not possible to have all options, so choose the options best suited for a specific match and champion. Here are some questions that will help guide your choice:
- Which Keystone mastery best enhances the champion's gameplay?
- What statistics best help the champion perform their role?
- What attributes best complement the champion, planned item build, and your own playstyle?
It's easiest to choose a mastery setup by working backwards from the best Keystone. In general, damage-focused champions should use a Keystone Mastery from either Ferocity or Cunning, and durability-focused champions from Resolve. Most utility-focused champions work well with Cunning or Resolve Keystones.
Runes give champions bonus statistics. A single rune offers little benefit, but many together have significant impact.
Purchase runes in the Store with IP, and place them in the 2 rune pages found in your Summoner profile. Purchase more pages in the Store. Switch between pages during Champion Select.
There are 4 categories of runes:
|Marks (reds) provide attack damage, attack speed, armor penetration, and magic penetration.||Seals (yellows) provide armor, health, health regeneration, and mana regeneration|
|Glyphs (blues) provide ability power, mana, cooldown reduction, and magic resist.||Quintessences (quints) are extra-powerful and provide stats from all categories, along with utility stats such as life steal, spell vamp, and movement speed.|
Primary runes from each category provide the best stat values. Secondary runes provide stats from different categories in lesser amounts than their primary counterparts. For example, compare a Greater Seal of Armor with a Greater Glyph of Armor.
Runes can only be placed into their matching category slots. There are 9 slots each for marks, seals, and glyphs, and 3 slots for quintessences.
There are 3 tiers of runes, which become available at different summoner levels:
- Lesser (level 1) and regular (level 10) runes give small bonuses for low cost, and feature a limited selection of Primary runes. Use them to experiment and familiarize yourself with the rune system.
- Greater runes (level 20) give large bonuses for much higher cost, and introduce Secondary runes for a wide selection. These are ideal. Save up IP, and spend wisely!
Make well-rounded rune pages that grant 3-5 different stats. Specialize pages for a role or champion.
You can choose between flat or scaling runes. Flat give an unchanging value, while scaling gain value with champion level. Flat runes are considered safer, and give a stronger early start, while scaling trade early power for bigger payoff later (around level 9 for most).
Caveat - DO NOT buy Revive, GP10, Experience, or anything to do with energy/energy regeneration. These are newb traps.
Summoner's Rift: Environment
Get acquainted with League's most popular arena, Summoner's Rift. Remember, you can create a custom game and explore for yourself!
Spawn & Shop (fountain): the dais where champions begin each game. Standing here rapidly replenishes health and mana. Use the recall function (B key) to return from any location. Items can only be purchased from here. Spawn is guarded by the Nexus Obelisk, a laser that kills things fast.
Base: the area bounded by walls that contains a Nexus. There is a gate in the middle of each wall that allies, but not enemies, can pass through.
Lanes: the 3 long, wide pathways guarded by turrets. Each has its own name - top, bottom (bot), and middle (mid).
River: the body of water that sits perpendicular to the lanes. 2 pits, one on each side of middle lane, are home to powerful neutral monsters.
Jungle: the quadrants between lanes characterized by narrow paths, terrain, and bushes. Each is mirrored, so that both sides of the map are identical. Neutral monsters live here.
Structures are destructible buildings. Each lane's structures must be destroyed sequentially, starting with the outermost. They take damage from basic attacks and a few abilities.
Turrets (towers): 3 of these guard each lane, firing powerful physical damage attacks at enemies who step in range. They only attack enemy champions when no minions are in range, or if an enemy damages an ally champions within their range. Damage against champions increases with each subsequent attack. Their defenses increase if no enemy minions are present. Turrets provide true sight, meaning stealthed units in vision range are revealed.
There are 3 kinds:
- Outer (tier 1): basic, with slow yet powerful attacks.
- Inner (tier 2, middle): same as Outer, but with more powerful attacks.
- Inhibitor (tier 3) and Nexus: fire laser-like attacks which ignore 75% of enemies' armor. These also regenerate their health.
Inhibitors (inhibs): gem-like structures found at each base entrance. They do not attack, but are guarded by turrets. They take reduced damage from champions, regenerate health, and respawn 5 minutes after being destroyed. Respawn timers are shown as a colored ring (example). If an inhibitor is destroyed, the opposing team spawns extremely powerful minions in that lane.
Nexus: large gem-like structures found close to the spawn platforms, guarded by two Nexus turrets. Destroy the enemy Nexus to win!
Minions: spawn from the Nexus and march down the lanes. Starting at 1:15 game time, a wave spawns every 30 seconds, each containing 6 minions (3 melee and 3 caster). Every third wave has a 7th, more powerful minion, known as a siege or cannon. Siege minions take 30% reduced damage from turrets, and are important allies.
Super minions: powerful and durable minions that spawn when an opposing Inhibitor is destroyed. They spawn with every wave, replacing any siege minions, and buff nearby minions, making entire waves more powerful and durable.
Monsters: the creatures found in the jungle and river. Monsters are "neutral" and will not attack until attacked. Each has varying amounts of health and damage - size is an indicator of power. Monsters follow fleeing attackers a short distance before resetting to their camp and rapidly regenerating health. A monster will reset when a thin bar above their HP indicating Patience drains and turns red. Camps respawn if, and only if, all its inhabitants are killed.
- Regular monsters: The Murk Wolves, Raptors (birds), Krugs (stone beetle-turtles), and Gromp (massive toad) are found in between the lanes. First spawn is 1:40; respawn time is 100 seconds.
- Buff monsters: The Blue Sentinel (blue buff) & Red Brambleback (red buff) are stronger monsters found at the center of a jungle quadrant. First spawn is 1:40; respawn time is 5 minutes.
- The Rift Scuttlers wander each side of the river. They don't fight, but instead evade when attacked. First spawn is 1:40; respawn time is 3 minutes.
- Dragon (drag, drake) is a fearsome monster that rests in the river pit near bottom lane. It knocks back enemies when taking flight, and its attacks deal a % of its target's current health. Dragon's attacks also splash, damaging units near its target. It is immune to CC. First spawn is 2:30; respawn time is 6 minutes.
- The Rift Herald is found in the river pit near top lane. It's a tough, scary enemy that takes 35% reduced damage from ranged basic attacks, but has a vulnerable eye on its back. When this eye is open, basic attacks from behind deal massive bonus damage. First spawn is 4:00; respawn time is 5 minutes; the Herald de-spawns to make way for Baron Nashor at 19:55.
- Baron Nashor (worm, nash, baron) is the most powerful monster on the Rift, found in the river pit near top lane, replacing The Rift Herald at 20 minutes into a game. Baron weakens its attackers so they deal less damage to him, and take increased damage from all sources. He also has a large arsenal of abilities, including a stun, slow, knockup, and knockback, some of which can be avoided. He is immune to CC. First spawn is 20:00; respawn time is 7 minutes.
Killing the largest monster in a camp grants various rewards. Some are extremely powerful. We'll talk about these in the chapters 'Summoner's Rift: Strategy' and 'Closer Look: Jungling'.
Summoner's Rift: Strategy
Battle on Summoner's Rift isn't a deathmatch. Victory doesn't just come from flashy moves and high kill scores, but also from strategic and purposeful play. This chapter will greatly prepare you for PvP!
Primary objectives are the things your team won't win without. Secondary objectives are ways to get an extra edge, but don't underestimate their importance. They are often crucial steps to achieving primary objectives, or deciding factors in closely-matched games.
- Experience: Champions gain levels by earning experience, which increases base statistics and ability ranks. Experience is earned locally from dying minions, monsters, and champions, and is split among those in the area. It is also granted globally through structure kills and Baron Nashor.
- Gold through minion & monster kills: To buy items, players need gold. Last hitting, dealing the killing blow to a minion or monster (termed creeps), is a player's greatest source of gold income. Last hits are recorded as a number called the creep score (CS). Building a higher creep score is called farming. Miss as few minion kills as you can!
- Structure kills: The only way to win is by destroying the enemy's Nexus, and the only way to the Nexus is through Turrets and Inhibitors.
- Turret kills give gold and experience to all allies, and removes enemy vision and protection. Once a turret is destroyed, your team can control that area. Minions can push further, threatening, or pressuring, other structures.
- Destroying inhibitors and releasing super minions is extremely important, tantamount to adding a sixth player who relentlessly pressures the enemy's base. Protecting your inhibitors is as important as destroying the enemy's.
- Vision Control: Place and protect wards, while destroying the enemy's. Learn more in the chapter 'Closer Look: Warding & Vision'.
- Dragon: Killing Dragon grants local experience and a permanent, stacking buff to all allies called Dragon Slayer.
- Dragon's Might (1 stack): +6% total attack damage and ability power (hit harder!)
- Dragon's Wrath (2 stacks): Basic attacks burn turrets for 10-180 (scaling with champion level) over 2 seconds. (destroy more!)
- Dragon's Flight (3 stacks): +5% movement speed (move quicker!)
- Dragon's Dominance (4 stacks): 20% reduced damage from turrets (more tower dives!)
- Aspect of the Dragon (5 stacks, repeatable): Doubles all other bonuses and your attacks burn enemies for 150 true damage over 5 seconds. Lasts 180 seconds. Kill the dragon again to regain Aspect of the Dragon after it times out.
- The Rift Herald: Slaying the Rift Herald grants 50 gold to each teammate and drops a purple object. ANY champion can walk over this object to consume it and gain the buff Doom's Eve, which grants 10% increased damage, 40 movement speed, and a halved recall timer for 2 minutes. Minions near the buff-bearer gain attack speed and 100 range, which is useful for pushing down towers early.
- Baron Nashor: Killing Baron grants gold, experience, and a buff called Hand of Baron to all teammates. The buff gives 40 AP and AD, halves recall time, and increases healing and movement speed after recalling. Most importantly, champions bearing the buff have an aura that massively empowers nearby minions. Hand of Baron makes a team a formidable siege force. Lasts 3 minutes.
- Buff monster rewards: The Blue Sentinel and Red Brambleback grant buffs to their slayers. Protect them, and try to steal the enemy's. These transfer to a champion's killer.
- The Crest of Cinders (red buff) gives health regeneration, plus extra damage and a slow to basic attacks. It's best to give red buff to an initiating fighter or tank, or a marksman.
- The Crest of Insight (blue buff) grants mana regeneration, cooldown reduction, and ability power. It's best to give blue buff to ability-oriented allies (usually a mage, assassin, or fighter).
- Rift Scuttler: When "killed", a Rift Scuttler will bury itself in the riverbed, creating a circular area that grants vision for 75 seconds and a speed boost to allies that walk through it. Having this helps both secure or deny Dragon/Baron, and aids movement between lanes. Remember, the respawn time for the Scuttler is a hefty 3 minutes, so choose strategic times to kill it.
Kills are not objectives! They are a means to an end - controlling actual objectives. While killing champions gives substantial gold and experience bonuses, a numbers advantage, and is disturbingly satisfying, it is possible to win games with no kills.
A perfect example of a low-kill game is the professional match CLG vs Curse in the 2014 NA LCS Spring Split. CLG was able to push their advantage and completely beat Curse while only getting 4 kills. First Blood happens at an astounding 23 minutes into the game, and the game ends a mere 2 minutes later. CLG secured victory through superior objective control, prioritizing objectives above kills.
A game on Summoner's Rift has 3 distinct phases that transition as champions gain levels and items, and structures are destroyed:
- Early Game (laning phase): Players focus on farming, denying farm and experience to opponents, and destroying outer turrets. Denying is accomplished by forcing opponents back to base through consistent harass, or by killing them. Basic items and components are purchased. Dragon and Rift Herald are realistic, but dangerous, objectives.
- Mid Game: Players begin roaming and grouping for ambushes, or to concentrate on an objective. Skirmishes and team fights, battles between all 10 players, start occurring. Champions have surpassed level 6 and have one or two core items completed. Middle and inner turrets are the focus, along with Dragon, the Herald, and remaining outers. Vision control becomes more important. Baron is a realistic, but extremely dangerous objective.
- Late Game: Champions are nearing level 18, have their core items completed, and are working towards full build (6 complete items). Inner turrets, Inhibitors, and Nexus turrets are the focus, along with Baron and Dragon. Grouping and team fights are common, as it is dangerous to be found alone. Respawn timers are now extremely long and have significant impact. Vision control is crucial to victory.
The meta (metagame) is the unwritten rules that guide player decisions. Efficient strategies, popular or imbalanced items and champions, game changes, and professional play all influence these "rules". Innovation and adaptation are encouraged, but understanding the meta is an important step to proficiency.
The meta is constantly shifting, but the foundation remains unchanged. To gain optimal amounts of gold and experience, teammates separate to different lanes during the early game:
- Bot (Duo): A marksman and a support typically share one lane. Marksmen are initially weak and fragile champions who need gold, but not as much experience, to become powerful. Supports excel at protecting and empowering, and need little gold to do their jobs. These two make the perfect duo, sharing experience and allowing the marksman to take all last hits. Almost always, this duo lane goes to bottom to stay near Dragon, but it's possible to send them top to stay near the Rift Herald instead. (It's important to note that the term "support" is used refer to both the champion role and the duo-lane position. For example, it's popular to play mages like Brand in the support position, but this does not make Brand a support champion.)
- Mid: Mages and assassins typically go solo in the mid lane. They benefit greatly from levels and gold, so sharing these is sub-optimal. The distance from turret to center-of-lane is shorter in mid than outer lanes, which offers extra safety to these fragile champions. The central location makes roaming for surprise attacks convenient.
- Top: Fighters and tanks also benefit from solo gold and experience, but with their inherent durability, don't need the safety of the shorter mid lane. Certain mages with movement abilities or speed buffs are also less concerned about lane length. The duo lane is usually bottom, so top is the lane of choice for these champions.
- Jungle: Champions that occupy the jungle, called junglers, primarily gain gold and experience by killing monsters, rather than sharing minions in a lane with another teammate. See the chapter 'Closer Look: Jungling' to learn more about this complex role.
A team composition is the aspect created by the combination of synergistic champion attributes. A variety of roles, a mix of damage types, and complementary crowd control/utility are all things that benefit a composition's cohesiveness.
Forming strong compositions takes experience and communication. Focus first on learning your individual champions and determining your personal strengths. However, to help you understand the subject, I've listed common compositions below.
Closer Look: Jungling
The jungle lives up to its name. It can be difficult to succeed there, let alone survive. This chapter will put you on your way to becoming a seasoned trailblazer!
Jungling requires skilled decision making, efficient time management, and thorough game knowledge. Smite is required, and rune and mastery also have a large impact on a player's success.
The Jungler's Purpose
Rather than farming minions in a lane, a jungler farms monsters across the entire map. Towers and minions reveal the locations of laners, but junglers are hidden in the fog of war.
Junglers use this advantage in many ways. Ambushing enemy laners (called a gank) can put teammates ahead. Counterjungling, stealing monster kills from the enemy's side, denies the enemy jungler farm. Dueling their jungler, who might have low HP after clearing a camp, and either killing them or forcing them back to base, is another way to keep the enemy behind.
The Jungler's Tools
The jungling role revolves around the summoner spell Smite and the items Hunter's Talisman and Hunter's Machete. These are mandatory.
The Hunter's items combine into 3 different items, each of which aid junglers in unique ways:
Tracker's Knife is useful for all junglers, because wards give vision, vision gives information, and information is OP.
Stalker's Blade makes ganks more fearsome! Smite champions to damage them and steal their movement speed (slow them while boosting your own speed).
Skirmisher's Sabre is for duelists, who can Smite enemies to kick some ***! Once smote, the enemy takes more damage, deals less back, and is marked with vision so they can't sneak away.
These items can be enchanted by combining them with other items:
When building these enchantments, follow the logic demonstrated in the chapter 'Items'.
Each regular monster camp (except the Rift Scuttler) has a unique smite reward. Smiting instantly grants the smitee this buff - no killing required!
- Gromp grants Gift of the Toadstool, which poisons enemies who attack you. Use it to clear camps faster, or add damage to early skirmishes.
- The Murkwolves summon a roaming spirit to watch over your jungle. It's basically a short-lived mobile ward.
- The Raptors grant Razor Sharp, which signals when a ward spots you. For a short time, wards are revealed - if you can find them! Quick, check that bush over there! Use this to make your ganks sneakier.
- The Krugs grant Gift of the Heavy Hands. Your basic attacks periodically stun monsters, and deal true damage to turrets (which consumes the buff). Use this to beat up other monster camps.
- The Red Brambleback restores 20% of missing HP.
- The Blue Sentinel restores 25% of missing mana.
(Killing any large monster will restore small amounts of health and mana, whether or not it has been smote.)
Technically, any champion can jungle, but some are better suited for the wild.
Good junglers must be able to farm efficiently, meaning they clear camps reasonably fast without taking too much damage. Champions with low-cooldown, AoE damage abilities and/or good single-target DPS are good picks.
Their abilities help them perform one or more of the tasks mentioned above: ganking, counterjungling, or dueling.
Closer Look: Warding & Vision
The vision system gives players control over the fog of war, the darkness that obscures vision around the map. Every player needs to understand this system, and contribute to vision control every game.
The free items called Trinkets are the foundation of vision. Sightstone and Tracker's Knife are additional options used by supports and junglers, respectively.
The 2 Trinkets are free items which have their own item slot:
- The Warding Totem places wards, based on a charge system. After level 9, this can be transformed into the Farsight Alteration.
- The Sweeping Lens (sweeper) scans for enemy units, disabling and revealing enemy wards for a short period so they can be destroyed or bypassed. After level 9, this can be transformed into the Oracle Alteration.
Players select one of these at the beginning of the game, and are given the Warding Totem by default if no selection is made before leaving the base.
Wards are place-able objects that reveal an area of the map in a radius around them.
Trinket wards come from the Warding Totem. They are identified by a yellow orb, take 3 basic attacks to destroy, and become invisible 1 second after placement. Their duration grows with champion level, scaling from 60-120 seconds.
Farsight Wards come from the Farsight Alteration. They marked with a blue orb, take 1 basic attack to destroy, and are always visible. However, they last indefinitely.
Stealth Wards (greens) come from Sightstone and Tracker's Knife. They are identified by a green orb, and are just like Trinket wards, except they always last 3 minutes.
Vision Wards (pinks) do not come from trinkets, but are purchased in the shop. They last indefinitely, take 5 basic attacks to destroy, and are always visible. They grant true vision, which means they reveal invisible units such as stealth wards and Teemos.
Players can place up to 3 Trinket/Stealth wards and 1 vision ward. Wards can have skins, like champions, which change their appearance. The only constant identifiers are the HP bar and colored orb above the ward.
Warding is dynamic. It's not feasible to keep the entire map warded, so choose objectives to focus, and by anticipate what enemies will focus (such as a low HP turret or an exposed inhibitor).
Wards don't matter if you don't check your minimap consistently (at least every 10 seconds). Make it a habit!
Defensive wards provide advanced notice of incoming attacks. They can spot ganks during laning phase, or cover a team's flanks and rear during fights and sieges.
Offensive wards spot enemy movement on their side of the map, exposing them in vulnerable positions. They help a team control objectives like dragon and Baron. Use wards in lane bushes to help fight lane opponents.
Interface & Commands
The Heads-Up Display (HUD)
The HUD delivers delivers crucial information, so it's important to know what you're looking at. Here is an image that shows the HUD components together; below, I'll describe each individual part.
- Passive, Ability, & Summoner Spell Icons: each icon gives status information, such as cooldown timer, mana cost, ability rank, insufficient mana, cast disables, etc. Hover the cursor over each to read its tooltip.
- HP & Mana Bars: visual representation of your current HP and Mana, with numbers. Hover the cursor to see current regen per second.
- Current Level & Experience: the curved purple bar next to your champion portrait shows how close you are to your next level. Hover the cursor to see exact numbers.
- Stats: toggle this by clicking the helmet icon at the bottom left of the champion portrait. Extend it to view all stats using your chosen keyboard shortcut. Mouse over each stat for more detail.
- Status Icons: icons representing buffs, debuffs, and most anything else affecting your champion are displayed here (stacks for Annie's passive Pyromania shown in this example). Hover your cursor over them to read details. A cast timer bar shows just above this.
- Items, Trinket, & Gold: your inventory. Drag and drop to rearrange items to preferred hotkeys. Item icons show cooldowns and other information. Hover your cursor over icons to read details. The button that displays your gold also opens the shop.
This overview of the entire map shows the position of champions and minions not obscured by the Fog of War. Left-click it to move your camera, right-click to move your champion. Hover the cursor over structures to view their HP. Some movement and long-range abilities can be cast by targeting the map.
Above the minimap are your allies' champion portraits, which show their respawn timer, current HP and mana, and ultimate availability (the dot above each portrait). Targeted abilities can be cast on these portraits.
Portraits of slain enemies appear above these, showing their respawn timer.
Left-click a unit to view its stats. In this example, I've selected the enemy champion Miss Fortune, and can see her stats, items, HP and mana, creep score, KDA, and a status icon representing the passive effect Strut.
Scoreboard & Monster Timers
Hold TAB to view.
Displayed at the top are each team's Dragon, Turret, and Kill scores. Below is champion info - items, KDA, creep score, and summoner spells (cooldown displayed for allies only). Drag-and-drop to rearrange champions (for quick comparison between lane opponents).
Use the loudspeaker icon to mute/unmute players' chat messages. Hover the cursor over a champion portrait to read the player's name.
The scoreboard only updates when a champion is not in the Fog of War. Hidden champions have a '?' next to them.
The Monster Timers above the scoreboard indicate Baron (purple), Dragon (orange), and buff monster respawns. You will always be notified when Dragon and Baron are slain, but you must have vision of a buff monster camp's death to get its respawn timer.
From left to right: team kill score, KDA, creep score, game time, connection strength indicator. Underneath are optional ping and FPS numbers.
Mouse over interface elements (such as your ability icons, or an enemy's item on the scoreboard) to reveal tooltips stating exactly what they represent. This example is from an unplaced ability point for Caitlyn's Piltover Peacemaker, and it shows what changes with the next rank.
In tooltips, statistics are represented by this color code: AP, AD, armor, MR, HP, and mana. Base amounts sometimes are indicated in different colors than bonus amounts.
Use pings to quickly communicate with your teammates.
- Alert ping (A): ALT+left click, or G. Use on an enemy to Target them (B), and on allies, to Request Aid (C).
- Caution ping (D): CTRL+left click, or V. Use on a unit to issue a Retreat ping (E).
- Radial Menu: Hold ALT or CTRL+left mouse button to view the radial menu. Move your cursor in the direction of the ping you want to issue. This can be done in a single, swift motion.
Hit Enter to open chat, type your message or command, then hit Enter again to send and close chat. ESC closes chat without sending. View the chat history by pressing Z. Click and drag the top bar after opening to move the window. Important notifications such as pings are announced automatically in chat, so make sure your time stamps are turned on.
- '/w "summoner name" ': send a message to out-of-game friends.
- '/r': reply to the last message received from an out-of-game friend.
- '/all': send a message visible to both teams. Shift+Enter will open the chat window in this mode. Visibility of /all chat can be toggled in the Options menu.
The spoiler below contains important abbreviations and jargon. Item and champion abbreviations, for the most part, are intuitive enough to not be listed.
If you want to be an Encyclopedia Brown of League, check out the terminology page from the MOBAFire wiki.
Be aware that LoL evolves, and community-made resources may fall out-of-date. Watch live streams to observe the most up-to-date gameplay.
Conclusion, Change Log, & Credits
Congratulations on reaching the end! I hope that you enjoyed my guide and have been bettered by it. If you have, please support it by sharing, commenting, upvoting, or giving me +rep!
I have an admonition to make. LoL's players have earned a reputation for toxicity and immaturity, and I would like to see this change. The best thing you can do for yourself and the community is to play with the right attitude. Play for fun, be open and willing to learn, and be encouraging to teammates as well as yourself. The Summoner's Code is a great set of guidelines in and outside of the game - learn it, and abide by it!
Participate in The Tribunal, if you have time. Judging other's poor behavior can give you insight to your own. (Tribunal getting reworked, currently unavailable)
Special thanks goes to:
Cestian, for taking the time to teach a random newb.
DaBrownCharizard, Knoxycotten, Animositty, and Suprar15 for introducing me to the game.
dudandwiggles for the awesome Nami picture.
Reddit user Fornoitdoesnt, for translating the guide to French!